Interview With Scott MacIntyre

The first blind finalist on American Idol and organ donor recipient at 19-years-old, Scott MacIntyre’s life is a miracle!

Pamela Maynor: Scott, tell us about your new album, Lighthouse that was released on September 23rd.

Scott MacIntyre: Well, the album is about faith, hope, love and really the entirety of the Christian walk. I was up in the mountains of East Tennessee with several songwriters and their wives on a songwriters’ retreat. We were able to focus on God and music and we came up with the idea that Lighthouse is really a great metaphor for God. God is like a lighthouse, gazing tall out in the distance amidst the raging sea all around, waves of confusion crashing on every side as we try to stay focused on the lighthouse and navigate towards Him. I was really inspired by that and I’m really happy how we were able to capture the essence of that picture.

PM: What miracles has God done in your life?

SM: The biggest miracle that God has done in my life is actually giving me a second chance at life – not only spiritually when I was a little kid and came to Christ, but physically when He literally provided the gift of life to me through a kidney donor. Before the transplant, I was getting very sick. I could not play the piano in my own living room. I could not sing, was not able to travel or tour. I ended up on emergency dialysis and had to be strapped to a dialysis machine three times a week for hours and hours on end just to keep my body alive. There was no official diagnosis as to the cause of my kidney failure or my blindness so there were a lot of uncertainties at that time and it really felt like my dreams were dying. I believe that God has given me the gift of music to share with other people, so when I couldn’t do that anymore, even at my own home, it was very devastating to me. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to face. But out of that incredible tragedy, God provided a kidney donor for me. It was the wife of my former piano teacher. She barely knew me but she was the first person that came forward and the way that she did it was such an example of Christ’s love. She had no reservations whatsoever about doing it. Every time I try to say thank you, all she says is, “Well, it’s something I could do.” And “I’m glad that I could do it.” Since that transplant, I’ve gone on American Idol and I got married to my wife Christina. I’ve been able to travel around the world sharing this story and sharing my music 8 with so many people.
The other part of the miracle, I would say, is how God redeems that time and actually made something beautiful out of something very hard. A kidney transplant is not a perfect answer. I have to take anti-rejection medication everyday right now and I’m very thankful for that because it keeps my transplanted kidney working and alive in my body. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone. But I’ve seen how God has used it in other people’s lives to inspire them and draw them closer to Himself. I wouldn’t change the fact that I had to go through a kidney transplant. I wouldn’t change any of it. I wouldn’t have my sight back if I could choose to do so because I see the miracle that it is in the lives of other people and how it draws them closer to God.

PM: How did you get through the hours of despair and difficulty?

SM: I read Scripture, I prayed. I had to ultimately come to terms and believe, really believe, that God has a plan for my life. Because when you’re not sure that God has a plan for your life, everything starts to look very bleak and very hopeless and I definitely know what hopelessness can feel like. But once you realize that God has a plan for your life, once you open the Bible and you see the amazing promises that He makes to us, that is what kept me going through that time and that’s what can lift anyone out of the deepest pit of despair, even when they can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

PM: What advice would you give to teenagers who may feel that their obstacles are too great for God?

SM: One of my favorite songs from the album is called 50 Second Chances. There is no sin, there is no weakness, there is no hardship or hurt that God can’t make right or forgive. There’s nothing that’s too big for God’s grace. Even though we fail every single day and we fall short every single day, He still is willing to forgive us if we come to Him with a humble heart and ask Him for it. That breaks the cycle of despair. That breaks the cycle of sin. You have someone to love you, who’s waiting, just waiting to forgive you if you just ask Him to. That’s very hard for a lot of us to wrap our minds around because we feel innately that we have to somehow deserve God’s favor or earn God’s grace. But it’s impossible. I like to say it is impossible to live the Christian life. You can’t do it; it’s impossible! It’s not possible without God’s help.

PM: What advice can you share about succeeding academically?

SM: I was very focused academically growing up and I think in some ways, maybe I had an unfair advantage because I was blind. That’s an odd way to say it, but visual things around me didn’t distract me so I really was able to think through things at an early age. I would say to young people to put effort into your academics. It’s hard when you don’t necessarily see your future and I kind of had an unusual case because I knew very early on that I love music.?I think the most important thing I learned in school and in College and even doing my Master’s degree later on – I learned how to learn. When College ends, learning has just begun in life and the people that do the most with the gifts that God has given them are the people that learn how to continue learning. It’s one thing to learn Math or to learn numbers, but the most powerful thing that you can do for yourself academically is to be able to take in new information and figure out what to do with this information because your whole life, you will be meeting new people and new challenges. We all will continue to face challenges – that’s just how life works. And if you have the tools to make sense of the challenge, to sort through it, understand it and to rise to the occasion, that’s really what I believe school should be for.

PM: What was it like being on American idol?

SM: It was one of the best experiences of my life! It was fun to be surrounded by other people who loved music and were very good at what they did. It was a good time for me to be able to stand up for what I believe, because I was surrounded by people with many different beliefs that didn’t necessarily mesh with mine. But the show American Idol, the producers, the camera crew and everyone that worked in the show were so professional; they did a great job of making everyone feel at home. I never felt threatened by them. I think I learned that if you stand up for your faith, if you say what you really believe and unashamedly stand for Christ, you’ll be surprised that some people may not like that, but you’ll also be surprised at people who will respect that. I think you have to be prepared for some resistance because the Bible does say we will be persecuted for our faith and that’s just part of being a Christian. But American Idol was a very safe place for me to talk about my faith and so I’m very grateful for that. I’m very grateful that they made it easy for me to have such a big platform and still be who I want to be.

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Scott MacIntyre: Blind American Idol Finalist, Transplant Recipient and Author

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